As lives offline and online merge, it's easy to forget how we got here. Rise of the Machines reclaims the story of cybernetics, a control theory of man and machine. Thomas Rid delivers a portrait of our technology-enraptured era.
Springing from mathematician Norbert Wiener amid the devastation of World War II, the cybernetic vision underpinned a host of myths about the future of machines. This vision radically transformed the postwar world, ushering in sweeping cultural change. Cybernetics triggered cults, the Whole Earth Catalog, and feminist manifestos just as it fueled martial gizmos and the air force's foray into virtual space.
As Rid shows, cybernetics proved a powerful tool for two competing factions - those who sought to make a better world and those who sought to control the one at hand. In the Bay Area, techno-libertarians embraced networked machines as the portal to a new electronic frontier. In Washington, DC, cyberspace provided the perfect theater for dominance and war. That "first cyberwar" went on for years - and indeed has never stopped. In our cybernetic future, the line between utopia and dystopia continues to be disturbingly thin.
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Seamlessly weaves a tapestry from many pieces
- Gary "l'enfer c'est les autres"
Good history lesson on cybernetics.
- Victor Mesa Fernandez